Chamber News

August 12, 2020 Likes Comments

New COVID coding system shows favorable local infection rates

Here’s something Newton business owners and employees should be following.

Earlier this summer, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced the creation of the 11 person Newton Police Reform Task Force. (Globe story here.)
“The task force knows that input from residents, business people and others across our community is crucial to the work they are doing to understand, analyze and re-imagine policing in Newton,” Fuller wrote recently.
It’s up to all of us – employers and employees -- to take the mayor up on that by participating in this process.
Our business community depends on law enforcement as much as residents do (and our tax dollars support it). We share the responsibility for making this process a success. Follow the process, share experiences (positive, negative or neutral) and your ideas.
New COVID coding system shows favorable local infection rates
Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled a new colored-coded system yesterday that can help all of us track the severity of COVID-19 infection rates in our communities.
Each Wednesday, municipalities will be assigned a traffic light color label indicating severity of cases.
The data will be used to decide where to provide assistance with testing, contact tracing, gathering-size enforcement and public awareness campaigns, according to State House News (paywall).
The system has identified 33 communities where COVID-19 infection rates warrant intervention. Chelsea, Everett, Lynn and Revere have been marked “red,” the highest level of concern.
Newton, Needham, Waltham, Wellesley and Brookline all were marked the favorable “green” (less than four reported cases per 100,000). Watertown was “white,” indicating less than five reported cases. Full list and map here.
"If you're in a 'green' or a 'white' community, I can't imagine a good reason not to go back, whether it's full-time or some sort of a hybrid, because for all intents and purposes you meet all the benchmarks that are being used across the country and across New England to make decisions about whether it's safe to go back to school," Baker said.
Of course, we don't live or work in a bubble.
Our businesses, our hospitals and our schools depend on essential workers and others who commute here from many of the state's hardest hit communities. So while we should feel some level of confidence going to work, shopping and dining locally, we all need to remain vigilant and follow all the safety protocols.
Unemployment benefits very much in doubt
Baker also said yesterday that he opposes President Trump’s stimulus alternative because it relies on FEMA funding that Massachusetts and other states are counting on to cover COVID-19 costs and related expenditures [CommonWealth story here].
One executive order provides for a supplemental federal unemployment benefit of up to $400 each week, not the prior $600 amount. It requires states to pay for 25 percent of the $400 weekly benefit, while the federal government would pick up 75 percent, using $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund.
But as Bruce Brumberg explains in Forbes it's unlikely anyone will see the promised $400 in extra unemployment benefits any time soon.
Needham restaurants plan progressive dinner
Seven Needham restaurants are collaborating a progressive dinner promotion, with support from the Needham Select Board.
"Dine Around Needham" will be held next Weds, Aug. 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. (Rain date: Aug. 26). Restaurant-goers will be able mix and choose from appetizers, entrees, desserts and drinks from specially curated menus and dine al fresco at the restaurants, at any of the picnic tables placed around town or get takeout.
“The town is fully committed to supporting our businesses and finding creative ways to help them,” said Select Board member Marianne Cooley.
“Dine Around Needham is a fun way to showcase the many delicious offerings our restaurants feature while giving residents the opportunity to enjoy a fun and delicious – and distanced! -- night out.”
Guides and resources
The U.S. Chamber (no relation to our chamber) has created a variety of guides and resources. Here’s some that may be helpful:
Makerspace reopens
Watertown’s Hatch Makerspace is reopening for appointments next week. Beginning Aug. 17, users will have access to sewing machines, vinyl cutters and laser cutters. Workstations will be cleaned between each use. (Watertown News has more.)
About those new restaurant and gathering rules
Here’s some added clarification regarding the revision of state rules related to public gathering and restaurants that began yesterday.
While the state has rolled back outdoor gatherings from 100 to 50 and limited indoor gatherings to 25, the change does not apply to restaurants and other businesses allowed to operate in Phases I, II, and III sector-specific protocols.
Restaurant capacity is still governed by the previously announced social distance rules. The capacity restrictions have were updated are listed in in the Indoor/Outdoor Events and Theater/Performance protocols.
In addition, restaurants are no longer allowed to serve alcoholic beverages without also serving food. Food must be ordered first before any drinks.
Shop local (while on the Cape)
Want to support a Newton business while vacationing on the Cape? Longtime chamber member Mr. Sid (which has been operating in Newton Centre since the late '60s and has a store in the Seaport District), has opened a pop-up shop at the Mashpee Commons.
Be back with more tomorrow.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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